Country Retreat: Shimizu Hiroshi’s Ornamental Hairpin (1941)
To describe Ornamental Hairpin (Kanzashi, 1941) as a neglected film is a solecism, since, occasional cinémathèque and film festival screenings aside, the entire output of Shimizu Hiroshi remains undistributed outside Japan. Ornamental Hairpin is one of its director’s richest and most complex achievements: it both encapsulates and significantly develops his characteristic methods and concerns. Its importance, moreover, is not limited to the auteurist level. Made in the year of Pearl Harbor, it is also noteworthy as a subversive film produced in the context of an industry increasingly geared to propaganda. As such, it throws light on the strategies available to dissenting filmmakers in the darkest period of modern Japanese history.